California’s Central Coast is 350 miles of stunning coastline and adjacent inland valleys, south of San Francisco and north of Los Angeles. While individuals have different interpretations of the boundaries of the “Central Coast,” we at the Central Coast Tourism Council define it as the area from Santa Cruz and South Santa Clara County, all the way down to Ventura County and Heritage Valley.
The Central Coast is known for its epic and diverse beaches and coastal valleys, bountiful agriculture, wineries & cuisine, unique historic attractions and festivals, and the authentic rural California experience of “the original road trip.” It’s a bucket list travel destination for many around the world!
At roughly 13,000 square miles, the Central Coast would take 8-10 hours to drive straight through. Since the Central Coast is so large, we divide the Central Coast into 4 regions and recommend that visitors spend at least 2-4 days in each. The Central Coast’s charming coastal and rural communities offer incredible year-round weather, distinctive towns, outdoor adventure, shopping, amazing food, wine, beer, and cultural events.
The main thoroughfares through the Central Coast are U.S. Route 101 and California Highway 1, also known as the word-renowned Pacific Coast Highway. Find maps and itineraries here.
Monterey Bay Region
Santa Cruz County including Santa Cruz, Capitola, Aptos, Scotts Valley, Felton, Davenport, Ben Lomond, Boulder Creek
Santa Clara County including Gilroy and Morgan Hill
San Benito County including Hollister, San Juan Bautista, Tres Pinos, Ridgemark
Monterey County including Monterey, Big Sur, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Pebble Beach, Pacific Grove,
Seaside, Marina, Castroville, Moss Landing, Carmel Valley, Salinas
San Luis Obispo Region
San Luis Obispo County including San Luis Obispo, San Simeon, Cambria, Harmony, Cayucos, Morro Bay, Pismo Beach, Paso Robles, Templeton, Atascadero, Arroyo Grande, Nipomo
Santa Barbara Region
Santa Barbara County including Guadalupe, Santa Maria, Lompoc, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Ynez, Buellton, Los Olivos, Ballard, Solvang, Goleta, Santa Barbara, Montecito, Summerland, Carpinteria
Ventura County including Ventura, Oxnard, Port Hueneme, Ojai, Heritage Valley, Santa Paula, Fillmore, Camarillo, Simi Valley, Conejo Valley, Thousand Oaks